Related: With new logo, merchandise, centennial hoopla may stretch into 2026

By Mary Hladky

Boca Raton. Boca Ratone. Boca de Ratones.

That isn’t a conjugation of the city’s name, just a sampling of the variations that have appeared over time.

It’s safe to say, the city’s pioneers could have put a spell-check app to good use.

And, with all the different spellings, it should come as no surprise that one incorporation wouldn’t be enough.

The city is preparing to celebrate its centennial next year, the birth of Boca Raton marked by its incorporation as a town in 1925.
But the history books show the city was first incorporated as a town a year earlier, under the name “Boca Ratone.” The Boca Raton Historical Society decided to have some fun with this muddle by holding a “Boca Ratone Family Fun Day” on June 22 to commemorate the first incorporation.

“It’s something most people don’t know about,” society curator Sue Gillis said.

“We wanted to commemorate this earlier incorporation before Addison Mizner ever set foot in town,” Shannon Patron, the society’s director of education, said of the famed architect.

The man who the historical society says was the first settler, surveyor Thomas Moore Rickards, had platted the town as “Boca Raton” in 1896. But the city’s other pioneers don’t seem to have had any allegiance to that spelling.

Gillis counts about 20 different ones, including “Boca Ratton” and “Boca de Ratone.”

And earlier map-makers had problems of their own.

A 1774 map of South Florida shows the original site of “Boca Ratones” on Biscayne Bay. An 1839 map placed the site in two locations at the same time — one on Biscayne Bay and the second at Lake Boca Raton.

12686756065?profile=RESIZE_400xThe mish-mash of spellings even made its way into the city’s seal — Boca Raton became a city in 1957 — which is emblazoned with an image of a sailing vessel in an inlet, with the name “Boca de Ratones” on a scroll with the 1925 incorporation date.

At the Boca Ratone Day celebration, events included a demonstration that allowed kids to learn how butter was made before Publix did the work for us.

Other activities included a puppet show, dance lessons, trivia sessions and the serving of a birthday cake.

Kids even got a chance to redesign the city’s misguided seal.

12686756662?profile=RESIZE_710xGinger Mentzer, CPA for the Boca Raton Historical Society, teaches the Charleston to kids at the Boca Ratone Family Fun Day on June 22 at the history museum. The whimsical event celebrated the 100th anniversary of Boca’s initial incorporation as ‘Boca Ratone’ before it became Boca Raton in 1925. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

A food tasting with swamp cabbage, coconut canapes and many things mango drew from the historical society’s recipe book The Pioneer Cook In Southeast Florida, by Donald Walter Curl.

“We thought it was good to celebrate our pioneer heritage,” said Mary Csar, the society’s executive director.

There’s yet another misconception to clear up.

Everyone thinks Boca Raton means rat’s mouth. But linguists say it actually means mouse’s mouth.

Unless it means something else entirely.

“Boca de Ratones” or “Boca Ratones” was a navigational term referring to a rocky or jagged inlet, according to the historical society.

It was applied to the current Lake Boca in early maps even though the Boca Inlet did not exist at the time and was carved out later.

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